Wonderful call with Deloitte Consulting yesterday. In addition to a few other topics, I was asked to talk about my company, Powerful Learning Practice, and what we do specifically. The interviewer said, “I’ve looked at your website but in my experience you always learn so much more when you ask people to talk about the work they do.”  I spent a good portion of our call answering that one question. When I was done he commented, “This is so excellent, so powerful. More people need to know about what you offer. It really is unique.”

Super Powers

As I reflected about the questions asked I decided he was right – the work we do is powerful and unique. Our super hero strength is that our heart is in the right place and our best work is in what we do online. We get collaboration in online spaces and I am not talking about cooperation. We understand how to nurture trust in our online communities and courses. We know how to help teams leverage technology to build collective intelligence. I would say our unique methodology is truly our greatest asset. We use a three-pronged approach to professional learning by combining the evidence behind professional learning communities, online communities of practice, and personal learning networks as a single construct. It may sound like a mouthful but in action it is impactful and shifts culture.

Connection as a Means to Change

4608835419_a8bdd30cbc_o (1)In talking to my friends, I have inferred that for the most part our competition spends the majority of their time doing face-to-face workshops and training. In fact, a few are great at it. They are knowledgeable, entertaining and pack the house. We can do that too but it isn’t where our company culture lives.

Where Powerful Learning Practice’s (PLP) real strength lies is in the leveraging of community and powerful connective technologies as a means to building capacity for meaningful change.

We have found that typical demos and table talk at “one off” face-to-face summits and workshops, no matter how entertaining, are still passive engagement on the part of the learner and result in minimal lasting change. Rather, PLP’s model of staying with our learners in job embedded ways overtime, helps participants sort out real problems and challenges along the way.

When you spend your professional development dollars with Powerful Learning Practice you are given a learning life coach who facilitates your self directed learning every step of the way. You are immersed in a learning community that connects you with others globally that are also struggling to make sense of  the changing educational landscape. You read case studies, debate ideas, uncover problems, reflect and discuss and then co-construct peer reviewed plans for change. Coaches help you and your team build efficacy and confidence as you direct your own very personalized learning journey.

Who We Are

In a nutshell, Powerful Learning Practice is a professional learning company for connected educators. We serve teachers, leaders, professional development providers and others at the classroom, school, district, state or enterprise level. We work with entire states, districts or one educator at a time. Many of our clients are from around the world and we like it that way. And our expertise crosses organizational lines too, we are comfortable in public, private, and homeschooling settings across the K-20 setting.

In addition to having some predetermined offerings, PLP also is able to customize the professional learning we provide. If you come with a need or an aspiration around professional learning for your team or organization, we will help you envision and articulate it into a learning experience that will not only achieve your big goals but also help you implement the delivery of your idea down to the most minor detail.

Our current services are broken down into four main areas:

1) Ongoing, blended professional learning (the Connected Learner Experience)
2) Shorter, online courses (both instructor led and self paced)
3) Consulting
4) Speaking and workshops

Our Connected Learner Experience

PLP got started by offering what is now seen internally as the cornerstone of our organization – the Connected Learner cle1Experience (CLE). This type of learning (self directed using appreciative inquiry) really defines who we are as a company and what we believe. The Connected Learner Experience is a year-long, coached, blended learning opportunity that guides teams of educators through two full day workshops (one at the beginning of the work and one at the end), five learning cycles (the content is based on the needs of the cohort), and ongoing synchronous and asynchronous meetings, conversations, and webinars while being immersed in a variety of digital technologies including an online community of practice. Experienced voices (award winning practitioners currently embedded in schools doing the work), highly skilled connected coaches (using appreciative approaches), and community leaders guide the personalized learning experience. Teams grow as connected professionals garnering both cognitive strategies for change and growth mindsets as a result. Lasting relationships with other educators around the world are forged in this learning experience. Everyone leaves with an action plan or research project to implement back in their local context at the end of the experience.

Online Courses

Instructor Led Learning

When PLP first got started all we offered was the year-long PD. Our success was built around deep learning over time. As popular as it was after about two years we had folks asking if there wasn’t a way to “date us” rather than “marry us” with a year long commitment. In response, we created a dozen or so instructor led online courses. The uniqueness of these courses is that while they are shorter (5-10 weeks) they still incorporate both synchronous and asynchronous activities and take place in an online community. The facilitated learning done in these courses is flipped, self directed and co-constructed with the learners. There are still webinars, deep discussions, spirited debates, collaborative exploration of content and student created artifacts. It all just occurs in a shorter time frame.

Self Paced Learning

CFTS-book-400x284A couple years after we launched the instructor led courses people started asking for something more self paced. We created courses built around learning modules with high quality videos. They are priced just a little higher than a book but provide the opportunity to go much deeper with electronic resources, engaging videos, Ideas to try and come back and comment, quizzes and more. Participants are tracked as they take the course and then given a certificate of completion once an exit survey is completed. Districts often buy site licenses for the entire faculty as a way to get everyone on the same sheet of music around digital transformation. For example, our Digital Citizenship course has been used this way.

All of our courses and the CLE experience offer graduate credit though the University of North Dakota.


The world is changing and that includes the for-profit world. If you are following the trends and shifts impacting education you quickly realize there is no way with the fast pace of change and the knowledge doubling theory any one organization (or educator for that matter) could know it all anymore. We need each other.  I like what Howard Rheingold says in his book Smart Mobs, “Do you know, what who you know, knows?”

As a result of this sort of thinking, PLP is happy to consult with you on your projects by pouring everything we know into your work to make it better. Have a project you want to plan or launch? Bring us in to help get it off the ground.


20160810_170232When I was in the 4th grade I use to get Ds in conduct. I remember one of my teachers, Mrs. Walker, writing on my report card, “She is just a good old fashion talker.” I so wish she was around now so I could share with her how I am indeed a talker and get paid for it too!

My vitae has pages and pages of keynotes, scholarly talks, featured presentations, breakout sessions and workshops which I have given around the world. I have topics you can choose from but I would rather you just let me know a couple topics you are interested in for your event and let me choose from your short list something I am passionate about and in which I have expertise. That way I build the conversation from the ground up and it is fresh, funny, and relevant for your participants. I am affordable too and always willing to negotiate price. The next time you need a strong female voice for your event, reach out and see if I am available.

Don’t Miss This!

You also might want to check out the handful of books which written by PLPeeps. Or sign up to put a team of educational leaders through the NEW Connected Leadership Academy we are launching in collaboration with the American Institutes for Research 





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Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice. She works with schools and districts from around the world helping them to infuse technology into their curriculums and by leading other digital conversion efforts. Sheryl also consults with governments, educational organizations and non-profits in development of their various professional learning initiatives. Sheryl is a sought-after presenter at national and international events, speaking on topics related to digital and online learning, teacher and educational leadership, online community building, and other educational issues impacting children of poverty. Sheryl served on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Board of Directors for six years. She co-authored The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age with Lani Ritter Hall. Sheryl has four children and four grandsons, Luke, Logan, Levi and Tanner and a trio of dachshunds. You can find out more on her blog and on Twitter @snbeach.

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